Comprehensive Exams & Research Paper Requirements

Comprehensive Exams

Students are required to complete one written comprehensive exam, drawing from a reading list prepared in consultation with their committee. Students are encouraged to meet with faculty readers after the exam for feedback.

Exam Committee

The exam committee will consist of two members from the Sociology Department, selected by the student.

Timing of Exam

  • All full-time Ph.D. students must have their comprehensive exams completed by the end of the spring semester of their second year. The exam will be held in April or May on a date selected by the Director of Graduate Studies.

  • Students will not be permitted to hold a defense of their dissertation proposal until they have passed their comprehensive exam. 

Format of the Exams

  • The exams will consist of three questions. The examination committee will have at its discretion whether to offer a list of questions from which the student can select three.
  • Students will have a 24-hour period in which to return the exam to the administrator.

  • Students will be graded as "pass" or “fail."


Research & Writing Seminar Requirement

All students will take a two-semester Research and Writing Seminar, in which they will conduct an original research project and write a paper for eventual submission to a journal.  The seminar will be staffed by two faculty members who work in different parts of the field and are open to working on research projects representing the breadth of sociology.  This course begins in the second semester of year two, continues with independent research during the summer, and concludes in the first semester of year three.